Vacation Planning: Amsterdam

With all the running I do through airports, you’d almost think that I’d prefer to stay home for vacation instead of getting on a plane, but nah, this explorer and traveler is ready for interesting adventures once again.

I decided after numerous travels across the United States, Canada and some of Mexico in the past several years that it was time to return to Europe. (The Asia Pacific region will have to wait, as will the Mahgreb, and Central America… so many places, not enough time.)

Previously I’ve been fortunate to visit Paris, London and the southern coast of Portugal so when I began thinking about where to go this year, I knew I didn’t want to repeat any of those.

Europe is big and varied, there are so many regions offering any number of experiences, so… where to go?

After looking at a map and pondering for a while, I narrowed my list to Amsterdam, Barcelona and Dublin. I’ve never been to any of them; each had their unique charms.

It was a very tough decision, but I’ve decided to go to Amsterdam and the Netherlands. (The image below is of Amsterdam’s famous canals that surround the center of the city in concentric rings.)

Amsterdam Canal Rings

Dublin and Barcelona are still on my European wish-list along with Prague, and various cities in Spain, Greece, France and Italy.

I will have the luxury of being in the Netherlands for nine (9) days (not counting my two days needed to fly there and back), which is nice because I will be able to see a lot.

Dutch friends have already told me that it won’t make sense to spend all 9 days in Amsterdam… even though I will need plenty of time to see the museums housing Van Gogh, Vermeer, Rembrandt and lots of contemporary art and galleries. I’m really excited to see Vermeer’s work in person and to get a sense of the local art scene, which I understand is vibrant.

AND I’m extremely pleased because I’ve investigated music venues too, and blues and jazz clubs are all over Amsterdam. I think I mentioned in my post about Jr. Mack playing at Terra Blues, that he told the crowd in NYC that night he had just returned from Amsterdam the previous day… so it makes sense that blues venues are popular there. That is so cool.

So now I begin the work of figuring out where else to go in the Netherlands. Do I go to Rotterdam? Maybe Kinderdijk with its charming windmills? These are places I could probably go on day trips so that might be cool. (If I was really ambitious I could probably visit Antwerp or Bruges in Belgium, but that might be too ambitious.)

Some of you, my dear readers, live in the Netherlands and others who have traveled in that area… please feel free to make suggestions for your favorite places, restaurants, music venues, and other fun stuff to do in Amsterdam, and the Netherlands (links are also welcome.)

In any case, as my plans firm up for my “Return to the Continent” I’ll let you know.


17 Responses

  1. Carol, have a great time. Probably great museums there too.

  2. Hi Carol,
    More then 100 Art and Antiqueshops very close to The Rijksmuseum.
    This shop I recommand personly. She makes ones a year a collecters Item in a limited edition.
    It will break your hart, bit realize what would happend when you [the USA] did not helped us in WW2

    Try a Indonesian restaurant. NOT the chinees-indonesian!
    Tradidional food from Bali.
    Please try this – Spekkoek Indonesian layered cake.

    Rotterdam is ok, but Den Haag is better. Older! More historic.
    And a great Omniversum.

    Antwerpen is easy to do from Amsterdam
    Only 1 hour with a very fast train. Very fast!
    This is in the old area of Antwerpen close to the river.
    Walk from this very nice [smal] museum to the Centre of Antwerp and you will find hidden antiqueshops unknown to the tourist.

    When you want more information about thinks you like to visit, let me know.
    But, I going to Bali. 30 days. I`ll be back in June.


    • I was really REALLY hoping you would make a comment here on this George. THANK YOU so much!

      If you had to suggest to either go to Antwerp or Brugges, Belgium would you think I could see both places in 3 days? I’ve heard Brugges is really beautiful. And maybe it is better to skip Rotterdam then?

      Have fun in Bali – that sounds like a wonderful trip too!

      • Hi Carol,

        Skip Rotterdam 100% The city is ok, the people are ok, but its to new. Almost destroid during WW2.

        By train tot Antwerp, from Antwerp to Brugge, this city will keep you buzzy for two days [easely] and I think you will love this city to make photos. I went more then ones to Brugge just to make pictures with a few friends. Try to wake up early and when the sun is happy to see you, she will color the city in Gold. No joke.


  3. More Amsterdam,
    This looks great to me, but only one performance. You never know.
    All in walkingdistance or by [in dutch] ”bus en tram”
    A windmill IN the city of Amsterdam!
    The complete database of every windmill in the Netherlands.
    devided in 11 ”provincies”
    Amsterdam lies in the provincie ”Noord Holland”

    Nice to visit when you visit the Netherlands for the 10th time?
    Very close to where I live.
    They still make paper like they did in the early 1900 years.

    Maybe Kinderdijk with its charming windmills?
    No! I dont think so. To much a tourist trap. Take one good look on the website and you have seen it all.
    And they [tourist guide] speak better Japanees then English.

    More Den Haag
    Poffertjes! Yammie.
    Do you wanne shop where the King and Queen of the Netherlands shop? They live/work in this street!


    • Oh! That paper link looks so interesting – wow. I assume though I will not be shopping in book stores in Amsterdam – unless you think I can find European books in English that I would have difficulty finding in New York City…? What do you think?

      And yes, when I looked at the links for Kinderdijk … it did look too much like something “for tourists.” Also “Waterworld” too, it looks like a tourist trap.

        Is very intereting for you. I think.
        De Slegte is a nember of the ILAB (The International League of Antiquarian Booksellers ) –

        All the shop belonging to de Slegte exchange there collection of Antiquarian Books. And the big city there is more interest for the English written books. You will find a huge collection USA/English Antiquarian Books and maybe even some new that would be hard to get in NY.
        You will find ”One” book on the Second Hand Book Shelf, a 100 year old book, and the book says “Carol, buy me!”

        And later you remember I told you so when you write a Short Story :
        ”The whispering book”

        Go for the old books, Carol.

        • Okay, these places are DEFINITELY going on my to do list George. Whenever I travel, I like to find the work of local writers (in English, of course) and I would certainly enjoy reading some short stories by Dutch authors. I’m sure there are excellent writers in the Netherlands, I just don’t know who they are yet. 🙂

  4. Carol, I was going to suggest you look on Tripadvisor, if you haven’t already done so. There always seems to be at least one local expert who is a fountain of information. But it looks as though George may be just such a person. Good luck sifting through all of the suggestions. I look forward to reading about your trip — Holland is on our list, too.

    • Thanks Charles.

      Yeah, I am going for a more customized itinerary for this trip so I can see the “big” things that are “must-do” with a bunch of “optional” items so if I get tired or need a break or find something I wasn’t expecting … I can be flexible.

      I wish I could stay there a month, not 9 days!

      When I went to New Orleans for 3 weeks in 2011 (chronicled here on the blog) it was phenomenal. I had a leisurely pace and saw so many sides of the city and found things I didn’t expect.

      European vacationing is a whole other thing though, and it’s quite a bit more expensive, so I think it’s important to be prepared.

      You can count on me to chronicle my Dutch adventures here on the blog as well. 🙂

  5. More Amsterdam,

    Great place to be on a sunny day. Many – many nationality and things to see or buy you will never see anywhere else.

    Very close to Rijksmuseum and van Gogh museum.

    Not the place to carry an Canon EOS 5D Mark II Body camera in sight! There is nothing to be afraid of. There is a high social controle of the people themselve on the Market and the Police . I think you know what I mean. Try to blend in a little.
    Please do bring a small camera with you, this is the place to make macro-pictures of what the people sell.

  6. More Amsterdam,
    It is valid one year and it costs €49.90 for adults

    I think this is the best card for visiting the musea. Easy to buy.

    1 ticket Rijksmuseum will cost you 15 Euro
    It is impossible to see all in one day.
    So why wont you go two times for a shorther moment, but more intens.

    Anne Frank House. € 8,50
    Stedelijk Museum € 15,-
    van Gogh Museum €14,-

    One museum more and your Card is free.

    This is what an official site writes about safety.

    Amsterdam is a safe city, and there is nothing to fear when walking in any part of the city. However, don’t leave your belongings unattended. When you’re in a coffee shop, bar or restaurant, keep your bag near to you – under the table, between your legs. As in every larger city, beware of pickpockets. Some residential surburbs (outside the city) have a bad reputation at night.

    In some Amsterdam coffeeshops there is NO coffee!
    If you know what I mean.

    • As a woman traveling by myself, safety is an important concern… but honestly, I have traveled so many places all over the the world by myself and I have never had a problem – Oaxaca Mexico and New Orleans probably have more crime than Amsterdam and I was fine in both places.

      What I can say… most people that live in New York City know and understand about safety because it is always something to have awareness of while you are walking around.

      As for my little hand-held digital camera that is now many years old, I doubt anyone would like to steal it… but if they really want it, they can take it because then I would have to buy a newer one. LOL

      I know people that have the Mark IV, or V camera body, and I think they have many more problems worrying about their equipment than I do. 😉

      And as for the drug culture in Amsterdam, I have no interest in it. I don’t like the smell of pot so I will be trying to avoid all of that as best I can. I don’t drink coffee either, so I don’t need to use “coffee shops.”

      I’m sure I’ll walk through the Red Light district as any tourist would do to see it, but I am not there for “that” side of Amsterdam…

      • I know you only by the words you write. Im not the one to tell you what to do and what to dont. Specialy because you are a woman. What when I tell you this?

        Yes, The Red Light district is ok to visit. But why would you?

        Think about making a statement, and NOT visit The RL district.

        Because, even today! Not all women work there by free choice.

        I hope you forgive me this saying. It is not to you personly. Please feel free to do what you like. I am not judging you or anyone else who visits the RL district.

        • I hear what you are saying George. I’m just a “curious tourist” and the RL District is something “known” around the world, but maybe you are right, there probably isn’t much to see there…and I have no need of services from the ladies there!

          Maybe I will take a decision once I get on the ground to understand the city a bit better, but your point is well taken.

  7. […] back on April 23rd this year, I published a blog post called Vacation Planning: Amsterdam. In that post, I mentioned that there were three (3) cities at the top of my European travel wish […]

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